Drunken Driving
The woman's breath test showed a reading four times the legal limit (image for representation) Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Policemen on patrol probably get to hear some pretty bizarre excuses from drivers failing their breathalyser tests. In one such case, a woman, who had more than four times the state legal alcohol limit, went on to prove she was not driving under the influence of alcohol, at least not intentionally.

Hamburg police arrested a motorist in 2014 after the breathalyser recorded a reading of .33% when the legal threshold for drunkenness in New York is 0.08%.

The unnamed New York woman then went to great lengths to prove that she had not consumed alcohol but that her body had produced it on its own. She spent over $7,000 (£4,720) working with a specialist to prove that she did in fact suffer from auto brewery syndrome, a rare disorder that causes excess intestinal yeast to turn ordinary food into alcohol.

Hamburg town judge Walter Rooth recently found the woman's claim compelling and dismissed the case. The Erie County District Attorney's office, however, said it would appeal the ruling and seek to have the charges against the driver reinstated.

"I would say it is not safe to drive a car if you are in an auto brewery syndrome flare," Dr Anup Kanodia of Ohio, an expert on the unusual syndrome who monitored and tested the woman said. "But it's a brand new disease and we're still trying to understand it."

"At first glance, it seems like a get-out-of-jail-free card," Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University told AP. "But it's not that easy. Courts tend to be sceptical of such claims. You have to be able to document the syndrome through recognised testing."

The woman's lawyer, Joseph Marusak, was referred to Dr Kanodia who conducted a variety of tests on her.

"At the end of the day, she had a blood-alcohol content of 0.36% without drinking any alcoholic beverages," he said about one of the tests administered. He said she had also bought a breath test kit and blew into it every night for 18 days, registering around 0.20% every time.

When the woman had been pulled over by the police for weaving in October 2014, her car had a flat tyre and reports mention that she also had "blood-shot, glassy eyes".

"Her tire was flat, and she felt she was close enough to home that she could drive the rest of the way," Marusak explained. "She can register a blood alcohol content that would have you or I falling down drunk, but she can function."